- Malaga 1 – Atletico Madrid 0
Atletico had the chance to go into the winter break on top of the league table. Instead, they suffered a 1-0 defeat in the Costa del Sol to Malaga. The game was very much back and forth with both teams creating chances. Malaga had the major share of possession with 61% of the ball. They also created more chances in the game, but it all changed in the 56th minute when Gabi received his second yellow for a handball. This led to his sending off and Malaga began to turn the screw. Torres and Griezmann both had chances to give Madrid the lead, but Kameni came up with some huge saves. Then Amrabat found Charles Dias on a nice cross and he struck the ball goal bound. The ball went off Diego Godin’s legs and into the net. Oblak was wrong footed by the deflection. The loss means that Barcelona stay on top of the Primera Division, level on points with Atletico Madrid going into the winter break.
- Arsenal 2 – Manchester City 1
In the heavyweight clash of the Premier League this weekend, Arsenal came out winners thanks to 2 first half goals from Walcott and Giroud. Ozil assisted both goals, as he takes his tally to 15 assists on the season. That is more than Mahrez and Deulofeu in second and third have combined. Manchester City dominated possession but could not make their chances count. Aaron Ramsey has had a profound effect on the team as he continues to be strong in the midfield. Arsenal did concede a late goal to Yaya Toure, who beautifully finished off a pass from Bacary Sagna. The game would end 2-1 to the Arsenal. This gives Arsenal a bit of space between them and City, as they are now 4 points clear of City. However, Leicester just continues to win and they are still atop the table. They have 38 points and are 2 points clear at the top. They will be on top of the table at Christmas and that is amazing.
- FC Koln 2 – Borussia Dortmund 1
In Germany, it was getting closer to maybe becoming a two horse race, but now the gap is back to 8 points and looks close to insurmountable. Dortmund have not had the luxury of dropping points and they have obliged with only 2 draws and 2 losses coming into this weekend. They had a prolific offense that has scored more goals than Bayern Munich and the defense has been solid. This weekend, they took a step back as they face Koln. They jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. Dortmund had a bunch of chances but could not find the back of the net. In the second half, Koln grew into the game. In the 82nd minute, a horrible pass from Dortmund goalie, Roman Burki, led to Simon Zoller scoring the equalizing goal. This was Koln’s first goal in their last four home games. Then as time was winding down, Anthony Modeste beat Burki to the near post to send all of the points to Koln. The difference at the top of the table is now 8 points.
- SM Caen 0 – Paris Saint-Germain 3
In what is becoming something of a recurring theme, PSG dominated this weekend defeating Caen 3-0. They dominated just about every category on the stat sheet. Angel di Maria opened the scoring in the 16th minute. Zlatan doubled the lead in the 36th minute of the game. In the second half, di Maria scored a second goal that I am still trying to figure out how. Check it out later on. In the 85th minute, Andy Delort saw his penalty kick saved by Kevin Trapp to ensure the clean sheet. PSG is now officially halfway done with the season having played every team once. They have played 19 games, won 16, drawn 3, and lost 0. Is this going to be a magical season for PSG? How early can they wrap up the title?
- Inter 1 – Lazio 2
This weekend only one team in the top 6 in Italy did not win and it was the team on top of the table as Inter lost 2-1 to Lazio. This means the race for the top spot in Italy is really getting tight since the distance from 1st to 5th is now just 4 points. Any dropped points will be crucial in this league. Lazio jumped out to an early lead thanks to Antonio Candreva when he smashed Lucas Biglia’s corner kick into the net. In the second half, Mauro Icardi was played in by Ivan Perisic and scored the equalizing goal. Both teams had a host of chances but couldn’t find the finishing touch. Felipe Melo went straight into the back of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the box and this gave Lazio the perfect chance to take the lead. It was also an interesting bit of foreshadowing. Candreva would step up and see his penalty saved, but he finished the rebound giving Lazio a 2-1 lead. In the 90th minute, the red cards came out as Felipe Melo was caught with a high boot that went straight into Biglia’s neck. He was sent straight off. Then Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was sent off for some time wasting as he saw his second yellow. The game ended with some fireworks but was not the result Inter would have like.
- Carpi 2 – Juventus 3
The Italian champions have now won 7 straight games following their 3-2 win against Carpi. They had to come back following a 15th minute goal from Marco Borriello. The lead did not last long, as Mandzukic went on to score a very nice goal three minutes later. He added a second just 4 minutes from halftime. In the second half, Pogba doubled the lead just 5 minutes in. This lead held until Bonucci played the ball into his own net two minutes into added time. The game ended 3-2 to Juventus to make it 7 wins in a row. They have now climbed all the way from 17th place in week 2 to 4thplace. They are just 3 points off the top and can easily consider themselves in the title race, and possibly favorites now, considering their history and form.
- Manchester United 1 – Norwich City 2
Manchester United entered the weekend in the top four. They had been there for the last four weeks, despite their four game winless streak. Norwich entered the weekend in the relegation zone. At the end of the weekend, neither of those facts would be true any more. Norwich took the lead thanks to a first half goal from Cameron Jerome. Alexander Tettey doubled the lead in the second half. Anthony Martial pulled United one back after Norwich could not clear the corner well. Both teams went on to create a bunch of chances but neither could find a way past them. United dominated possession and created more chances but were not clinical enough. United have dropped out of the top four and have lost two in a row. Norwich, on the other hand, has propelled themselves out of the bottom 3 and will look to push on from here. It was a shocking result, but that is something that we have come to expect this season.
- Borussia Monchengladbach 3 – Darmstadt 2
This game was picked simply for entertainment value. The game featured Darmstadt who were newly promoted and in 13th place in the table. Monchengladbach were 4th in the table and had recently crashed out of the Champions League. The game seemed very straight forward but was far from it. The game started with a shock when Darmstadt grabbed the early lead. Sandro Wagner flicked on a throw in and Marcel Heller was first to the ball to volley it into the net. With just 7 minutes left in the first half, Granit Xhaka, the Monchengladbach captain, was sent off for violent conduct. He decided to take a kick at Peter Niemeyer. That didn’t deter ‘Gladbach as Lars Stindl drew the game level with a beautiful shot. In the second d half, they took the league from a beautiful free kick from Haavvard Nordtveitt. The lead would last for 16 minutes as Sandro Wagner would head in a perfect cross from Marcel Heller. However, Darmstadt could not hold on to the lead as Oscar Wendt was played in by Lars Stindl and beat the keeper for the points and the end of a fascinating game.
- Real Madrid 10 – Rayo Vallecano 2
This is a result that no one wants to see happen. In fact, the game could have turned out differently if not for the first sending off. The game started with Gareth Bale finding Danilo for a third minute opener. With Real Madrid up, Antonio Amaya leveled the score on the 10 minute mark. The next four minutes were very up and down for Rayo. Two minutes after drawing level, Rayo went ahead with another headed goal from Jozabed. Then two minutes after that, Tito was sent off for an awful tackle on Toni Kroos. It didn’t take long as Gareth Bale leveled the score 9 minutes after the sending off. Three minutes after the goal, Raul Baena saw his second yellow card and send Rayo to nine men. The resulting penalty was finished off by Ronaldo. The floodgates were open then. Bale added another in the first half and two more in the second half. Ronaldo also added one in the second half. Benzema went on to score a second half hat trick. The win was an important result for Real Madrid, but you have to wonder what if in this game.
- Gazelec Ajaccio 2 – Olympique Lyon 1
The recently promoted side started the season without a win in their first 10 games of the season. Since their 2-0 loss against Saint Etienne, they have gone on a 9 game unbeaten run, winning 6 of those games including this weekend against Lyon. Lyon is falling fast, as they are in the middle of a 6 game winless streak and have lost 3 straight now. The two teams are now just 2 points apart in the table. One was supposed to challenge for the title. The other was supposed to go right back down. Lyon is now 25 points behind PSG. They have a total of 26 points for the season. Gazelec Ajaccio got a goal on either side of halftime from Mohamed Larbi. Clement Grenier drew Lyon one back in the 72nd minute, but they did not have enough in the tank to draw level. It was a massive three points for the side who play in front of just 8,000 people each week.
Picture of the Week
This was one of the worst tackles I have seen in a while from Felipe Melo.
Goals of the Week
My Pick – I am going to go with Daniel Didavi. It was a beautiful shot into the top corner.
Bonus Goal Pick – Angel Di Maria scored two this weekend, but the second was an absolute peach. Check it out.
It is the time for winter breaks. Here is when the leagues that take them and when they return.
The Bundesliga is now on winter break and will be off until January 24th.
Ligue 1 will be off for the rest of the year and returns January 8th.
La Liga will be off for about a week as they take off Christmas but return on December 30th
Serie A will go on winter break with their return scheduled for January 5th
The English Premier League will fill your void as they have a very busy couple of weeks coming up.